In early May I went to my local Central Market to purchase orange infused EVOO and vinegar for my mom for Mother’s Day. What I did not realize until I approached the store was Central Market was kicking off a two week Greek festival. They were serving samples of grilled chicken kabobs and Greek cheese out front. Upon entering the store everything was Greek, they even changed every sign in the store to Greek influenced writing. It was impressive and I was inspired! I love Greek food and have had very little Greek wine, so my grocery trip to buy olive oil and vinegar turned into a cart full of Greek food and wine. My unsuspecting family was on the receiving end of my fantastical Greek excursion.
I picked up two Greek wines to pair with the food; a white wine crafted from Assyrtiko and a red crafted from Agiorgitko.
Assyrtiko: This grape is indigenous to the island of Santorini and is widely planted in volcanic rich soils, consisting of 70% of the grapes planted on the island. It is naturally disease resistant but susceptible to oxidation. It consists of high levels of acidity and alcohol allowing it great aging potential. It offers characteristics of citrus and minerality
Agiorgitko: As of 2012 Agiorgitko is the most widely planted red varietal grape in Greece; furthermore, it is a commonly imported grape into the US. It offers characteristics ranging from light and lively to heavy and tannic depending on terroir and winemaker. Though it is typically a single varietal it has been known to blend with Cabernet Sauvignon as well. It is known for its fruit forward characteristics of plum with spice notes.
Sigalas Santorini 2014 Assyrtiko: This wine poured a dazzling gold into the glass and opened with vibrant and inviting aromas of bright fresh citrus, orchard fruit, minerality and notes of honeysuckle and toasted hazelnuts. On the palate this clean, crisp wine delivered fresh picked apples and pears, grapefruit with lemons and limes, mineral notes with a touch of saline, herbs and honey. It was a medium body wine with a strong backbone of acidity that gripped the palate. It was well-structured and well balanced. The rear label recommended a two year cellaring before drinking so I intend to purchase a couple more bottles to cellar. In researching this wine the 2013 received 92 pts from Robert Parker and 91pts from Wine Spectator. Reportedly when properly aged this wine delivers petrol notes similar to aged Riesling (one of my favs). 14% alcohol. This wine was crafted from 100% Assyrtiko from 50 year old vines; fermented in stainless steel tanks. SRP $18. This wine delivered a lot of flavor and texture for a great price.
I paired this wine with the Greek marinated chicken kabobs, grilled broccoli and Melitzana salad (a Greek salad crafted from eggplant, feta, tomatoes and herbs). The kabobs were packaged in a lemon based marinade that paired perfectly with the wine. Additionally, the acidity of the Melitzana salad was a lovely pairing. The meal was outstand with another perfect wine pairing! This wine would also pair beautifully with seafood, any poultry and light pasta dishes.
Domaine Skoras Saint George Nema Aghiorghitiko 2012: This wine was a deep violet with ruby highlights and opened with rich aromas of red fruit, spice, violets and cinnamon. On the palate this wine delivered flavors of cherries, blackberries and plums with toasted walnuts, pepper and hits of dry earth, anise and leather. It was an acidic wine with integrated tannins offering a dry finish. This wine was crafted from 100% Agiorgitiko, fermented and macerated in stainless steel vats and in used French barriques for 12 months plus another 6 months in bottle. This wine won at International Wine Award at TexSom 2015.
I paired this wine with a grilled Moussaka meat mix of beef and lamb with white onion, garlic, parsley, pepper and oregano topped with Purely Greek Kalamata olive relish with almonds, figs and balsamic vinegar; served with grilled broccolini, grilled Kefalotyri Arvaniti cheese and toasted whole wheat pitas. The rich peppery Moussaka mix topped with the Purely Greek olive relish was truly an outstanding pairing with the delicious red Greek wine. I could not have been more pleased by the marriage of flavors. Furthermore, the creaminess of the grilled Greek cheese was a lovely balance to the acidity of the wine. This wine would also pair well with steak, meatloaf, grilled pork tenderloin and lamb chops.
We ended our Greek feast week with some yummy Greek desserts. I thoroughly enjoyed cooking some delicious Greek food and pairing it with delicious Greek wine; my family enjoyed it as well. Thanks to Central Market for inspiring me.
My Song Selection: This was such a fun week of food and wine. Both of these two Greek wines were very good and paired perfectly with the Greek food. Furthermore, both of these wines were quite pleasing, smooth, balanced, had great flavor, nice texture and age-ability allowing them to continue to improve with time. I believe this beautiful song, “Breathe Me,” by Sia offers a soft and elegant pairing, representing the smooth, balanced and flavorful wines that will be pleasing for years to come.
Get your own bottles of Greek wine and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!